Recent reports have surfaced surrounding potential interest from Barcelona in signing attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals from Villarreal in the January transfer window. With his reported €25 million release clause, as well as interest from Arsenal, Real Madrid, PSG, Man City, Fulham and West Ham, Barca will have to get a move on if they wish to land this rising Spanish star. An important consideration that has to be made before this signing is made, however, is whether or not Fornals would be an asset to the current Barcelona lineup?
At this moment in time, there do seem to be some gaps in Barca’s attacking midfield. Whilst regular starters such as Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele are all match fit and on form, Barca do lack squad depth at present. Rafinha is likely out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury, whilst Luis Suarez and Arthur are sidelined with knee and groin injuries respectively. Such injury woes see Barca’s attacking options spread fine, with only Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal as regular centre midfield options, whilst Malcom and Munir are on the bench should they be needed to replace any of Barca’s front three when their 4-3-3 formation is in use.
Even with Barca’s dire injury situation at present, the squad should almost be back to full health by the time that the January transfer window opens. Suarez is expected to return at the weekend, and whilst Arthur’s return date has not yet been specified, there are no reports to suggest that his injury will be long term. As mentioned above, Munir and Malcom are available should they be needed, whilst Carles Alena is a promising prospect in centre midfield, even scoring against Villarreal last weekend. Let’s also not forget about Denis Suarez, the former Villarreal and Sevilla midfielder who may not have yet made an impact at Barca, but could certainly be selected as a utility player should the team need him. Sergi Samper will also be an option if he can stay fit.
In all probability, Barca should be restored to their usual squad depth upon the arrival of the January transfer window, and so the need to reinforce their squad should no longer persist. This means that if Barca intend to sign Fornals, it should be because he brings something to the table that the Blaugranes currently lack.
Fornals has been one of the more impressive youngsters in La Liga this season, with his stand-out moment coming in the form of a 40-yard strike against Athletic Bilbao, which will surely be a candidate for goal of the season.
He also had a bit of fun with Iñigo Martínez during the game. Check it out:
The 22-year-old is a versatile attacking option; he usually appears as an attacking mid for Villarreal, but has also made appearances on the left wing against the likes of Barca, Valencia and Espanyol and has played on the right against opponents such as Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. Due to his impressive form this season, he received a call-up from the Spanish national team in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina and found himself on the bench for the Nations League clash with Croatia. This is in addition to his eight appearances for the Spain Under-21 squad.
Fornals is clearly a talented player who would benefit the Barca lineup, however there are numerous Barca players who already provide the team with the same strengths that Fornals possesses. In terms of speed, agility and dribbling, both Coutinho and Dembele fit the role with Malcom as a worthy backup option. When it comes to shooting, nobody does it better than Suarez and Messi, but Coutinho, Rakitic and Vidal have also added a handful of goals to Barca’s tally. To bring Fornals to Barca would see the Blaugranes deprive their other stars of game time, which could mean that some of Barca’s existing young talents do not receive the same opportunities for growth that they would have had Fornals not been signed. As it is, Malcom, Munir, Vidal and Alena have lacked game time this season, and to add yet another player to Barca’s long squad list may see them receive even fewer opportunities to gel with the team.
Whilst Fornals has the potential to be an asset to any major side, it would be counter productive to bring him to the Blaugranes should Barca wish to develop the recent young signings that they have already made. Fornals would be great for Barca, but just not now.